Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,734 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 74% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 24% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 9.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 We Live in Public
Lowest review score: 0 White House Down
Score distribution:
4,734 movie reviews
  1. Boy
    A film like this would have little chance without the right casting, and James Rolleston is so right as Boy, it's difficult to imagine anyone else.
  2. Movies like this are not for everyone, but arrive like private messages for their own particular audiences.
  3. The strength of the thriller genre is that it provides stories with built-in energy and structure. The weakness is that thrillers often seem to follow foreseeable formulas. Frears and his writer, Steve Knight, use the power of the thriller and avoid the weaknesses in giving us, really, two movies for the price of one.
  4. It's not dated. It is powerful, genuinely shocking and rather amazing.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Binoche does an excellent job showing her character’s conflict, though it is not until later in the movie that we learn why she so eagerly runs into danger.
  5. One of those rare movies that's not only based on a comic book, but also feels like a comic book. It's vibrating with energy, and you can sense the zeal and joy in its making.
  6. Co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo and the team of screenwriters have fashioned a story with just the right balance of superhero fun, nods to the greater Marvel Universe and genuine dramatic tension.
  7. A candy-colored fever dream is the most unforgettable movie of the year so far.
  8. Still Bill is about a man who topped the charts, walked away from it all in 1985 and is pleased that he did.
  9. Why Stop Now takes large themes much manhandled as movie cliches, and treats them with care and respect. It likes the characters. So did I.
  10. How can you make a movie about a man who cannot change, whose whole life is anchored and defended by routine? Few actors could get anywhere with this challenge, and fewer still could absorb and even entertain us with their performance, but Hoffman proves again that he almost seems to thrive on impossible acting challenges.
  11. If quirky, independent, grown-up outsider filmmakers set out to make a family movie, this is the kind of movie they would make. And they did.
  12. Mulan is an impressive achievement, with a story and treatment ranking with "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King."
  13. What impresses me more is that she (Delpy) has a lighthearted way about her and takes chances in comedies like this. It is hard enough to be good at all, but to be good in comedy speaks for your character.
  14. Even though it feels as if we’ve seen this movie before, Run All Night is a stylish and kinetic thriller, with Neeson at his gritty, world-weary best, some of the coolest camera moves in recent memory and a Hall of Fame villain in the great Ed Harris.
  15. What Campion does is seek visual beauty to match Keats' verbal beauty. There is a shot here of Fanny in a meadow of blue flowers that is so enthralling it beggars description.
  16. This is a rare thriller that's as much character study as sound and fury.
  17. There is anguish here that makes "American Beauty" pale by comparison.
  18. Imagine the forges of hell crossed with the extraterrestrial saloon on Tatooine, and you have a notion of Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
  19. It's one of those films where you feel the authority right away: This movie knows its characters, knows its story, and knows exactly how it wants to tell us about them.
  20. This movie is not a collection of parts from other films. It's an original, and what it does best is show how strangers can become friends, and friends can become like family.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    This is one of the craziest films to come along in a while and I can confidently say that anyone who sees it will either hail it is some kind of crackpot masterpiece or dismiss it as one of the silliest damn things they've ever seen.
  21. But if the movie were simply the story of this event, it would be no more than a sad record. What makes it more is the way it shows how racism breeds and feeds, and is taught by father to son.
  22. A brilliant and absurd film of "Titus Andronicus" that goes over the top, doubles back and goes over the top again.
  23. We like these people, which is important, and we are amused by them, which is helpful, but most of all we envy them, because they negotiate their romantic perplexities with such dash and style.
  24. Despite jumping through the deliberately disorienting hoops of its story, Eternal Sunshine has an emotional center, and that's what makes it work.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    A romance, a thriller, and a science-fiction drama, Upstream Color tantalizes viewers with an open-ended narrative about overcoming personal loss.
  25. Director Phil Alden Robinson and his writers, Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne, do a spellbinding job of cranking up the tension, they create a portrait of convincing realism, and then they add the other stuff because, well, if anybody ever makes a movie like this without the obligatory Hollywood softeners, audiences might flee the theater in despair.
  26. While the surface of his film sparkles with sharp, ironic dialogue, deeper issues are forming, and Chasing Amy develops into a film of touching insights.
  27. Finds the right notes to negotiate its delicate subject matter.
  28. Is alive, and takes chances, and uses the wicked blade of satire in order to show up the complacent political correctness of other movies in its campus genre.
  29. I'm not surprised that Rashida Jones took the lead in writing this screenplay; the way things are going now, if an actress doesn't write a good role for herself, no one else is going to write one.
  30. Bird wisely does not attempt to "explain" Parker's music by connecting experiences with musical discoveries. This is a film of music, not about it, and one of the most extraordinary things about it is that we are really, literally, hearing Parker on the soundtrack.
  31. I thought Rumble Fish was offbeat, daring, and utterly original.
  32. Part of the greatness of this film is that it not only avoids any simple answers, but it also takes us into the awkward contradictions and internal dishonesties that help us look at the mirror each day.
  33. Here was a great artist. She enjoyed her life. She didn't complain at the time, she didn't complain when she went cold turkey, she didn't complain in her 80s.
  34. This astonishing documentary, so beautiful, so horrifying.
  35. Watching Holbrook, I was reminded again of how steady and valuable this man has been throughout his career.
  36. Civil Action is like John Grisham for grownups.
  37. The movie is like a Dickens novel in which the hero moves through the underskirts of society, encountering one colorful character after another.
  38. A feeling movie, a mood movie, an evocation of the kind of interaction we sometimes hunger for.
    • Chicago Sun-Times
  39. Even with the stretched-out running time, Prisoners is one of the most intense moviegoing experiences of the year. You’ll never forget it.
  40. Mullen and Garfield anchor the film. Mullen, that splendid Scottish actor ("My Name Is Joe") and Garfield, 24, with his boyish face and friendly grin.
  41. There will be many who find To the Wonder elusive and too effervescent. They'll be dissatisfied by a film that would rather evoke than supply. I understand that, and I think Terrence Malick does, too. But here he has attempted to reach more deeply than that: to reach beneath the surface, and find the soul in need.
  42. Intended as a thriller of sorts, although Antonioni is, as always, too deeply involved in the angst of his characters to bother much with the story. (Review of Original Release)
  43. If you understand who the characters are and what they're supposed to represent, the performances are right on the money.
  44. For the most part, thanks in great part to Benson’s rich screenplay and Chastain’s nomination-worthy work, I was immersed in this story no matter who was telling the tale.
  45. The acting is on the money, the writing has substance, the direction knows when to evoke film noir and when (in a trick shot involving loaded dice) to get fancy.
  46. A first-rate post-World War I drama with a heavy dose of sentiment and a gripping storyline.
  47. Someone like Petey Greene made a difference and made a mark, and broadcasting is better because of his transparent honesty. He helped transform African-American stations more, probably, than their mostly white owners desired. And talk talents like Howard Stern, whether they know who he was, owe him something.
  48. It evokes Saturday afternoon serials in an age when most of the audience will never have seen one. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed myself.
  49. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is not only about Germany during the war, although the story it tells is heartbreaking in more than one way. It is about a value system that survives like a virus.
  50. The Tracker is one of those rare films that deserves to be called haunting. It tells the sort of story we might find in an action Western, but transforms it into a fable or parable.
  51. Renier’s performance is the best thing in the movie, although all the actors, cast partly for their faces, are part of creating this desperate world.
  52. Movies like Hard Eight remind me of what original, compelling characters the movies can sometimes give us.
  53. What makes the film involving is that it doesn't depend on the mechanical resolution of the plot, but on the close observation of its effects on these distinctive characters.
  54. Director Steven Frears deserves special mention. A lesser filmmaker could so easily have turned this project into mushy, sentimental junk. The tear-jerking moments here are heartfelt and real. It’s the kind of filmmaking we see too little of today.
  55. Rips up the postcards of American history and reassembles them into a violent, blood-soaked story of our bare-knuckled past.
  56. It leaves you wondering, how was it that so many people liked this man who does not seem to have liked himself?
  57. The Rewrite is hardly shattering new ground, but the familiar path is strewn with a steady stream of smile-inducing moments, two terrific performances from the leads and a first-rate supporting cast.
  58. Made against all odds into a funny and charming movie that understands the charm of the original, and preserves it.
  59. This is one of the most fascinating of all true crime stories.
  60. If a movie like this had a neat ending, the ending would be a lie. We do not want answers, but questions and observations.
  61. A Touch of Sin is humanist critique of the country’s turn to capitalism.
  62. The director is Nick Cassavetes, son of Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes, and perhaps his instinctive feeling for his mother helped him find the way past soap opera in the direction of truth.
  63. Bacon is a strong and subtle actor, something that is often said but insufficiently appreciated. Here he employs all of his art.
  64. A high-spirited charmer, a fantasy that sparkles with delights.
  65. No one should have to endure the life that Aileen Wuornos led, and we leave the movie believing that if someone, somehow, had been able to help that little girl, her seven victims would never have died.
  66. What is remarkable is that this film is based on a true story, and filmed on the actual locations. These are hard, violent men, risking their lives to save an animal species.
  67. The ending of the film is as calculated and cruel as a verbal assault by a Neil LaBute character.
  68. A touching and effective film.
  69. I think the answer is right there in the film, but less visible to American viewers because we are less class-conscious than the filmmakers.
  70. Once in the jungle they have all sorts of harrowing adventures, and I enjoyed it that real things were happening, that we were not simply looking at shoot-outs and chases, but at intriguing and daring enterprise.
  71. I firmly believe such illusions are never the result of psychic powers, but I am fascinated by them, anyway. The wisdom of this film, directed and written by Sean McGinly, is to never say.
  72. '71
    Frame by frame, ’71 is one of those intense war thrillers where you know it’s fiction, you know it’s not a documentary, and yet every performance and every conflict feels true to the history and the events of the time.
  73. Warren Beatty's Bulworth made me laugh -- and wince.
  74. A movie of introspection and defiance.
  75. The story is nuts-and-bolts space opera, without the intelligence and daring of, say, Steven Spielberg's ''A.I.'' But the look of the film is revolutionary. Final Fantasy is a technical milestone, like the first talkies or 3-D movies.
  76. This is a very good film, with Depp and Bale performances of brutal clarity. I'm trying to understand why it is not quite a great film. I think it may be because it deprives me of some stubborn need for closure.
  77. There are moments in Yagira's performance that will break your heart.
  78. Circle of Friends is heartwarming and poignant, a love story that glows with intelligence and feeling.
  79. The movie was mostly shot on two difficult locations: The streets of East L.A., and inside Folsom Prison. It knows these worlds. The language, the clothes, the attitudes, are all shown with the understated conviction of a director who is sure of his material.
  80. In its amiable, quiet, PG-13 way, The Invention of Lying is a remarkably radical comedy.
  81. The brief but informative (and kid-friendly whimsical) Island of Lemurs: Madagascar is basically a status report on the creatures, who exist nowhere else on Earth.
  82. The director is Wolfgang Petersen ("Das Boot"), who is able to unwind the plot like clockwork while at the same time establishing the characters as surprisingly sympathetic.
  83. The Mexican drug cartels have inspired countless films, but never one as final as Natalia Almada's documentary El Velador.
  84. This is a splendid, rousing historical adventure, an example of what can happen when the best direction, acting, writing and technical credits are brought to bear on what might look like shopworn material.
  85. The Frears version is cerebral and claustrophobic, an exercise in sexual mindplay.
  86. Watching the film, I thought of Michael Powell's great 1960 British thriller "Peeping Tom," which was about a photographer who killed his victims with a stiletto concealed in his camera. Sy uses a psychological stiletto, but he's the same kind of character.
  87. What Haynes does is take away the reassuring segues that argue everything flows and makes sense, and to show what's really chaos under the skin of the film.
  88. Fat Kid Rules the World is a movie with a title that might be misleading: It's a lot better than it sounds like it has any right to be.
  89. The movie has a sweetness and tenderness for these characters, poor lambs, blissfully unaware that they're about to be flattened by World War II.
  90. Although there are moments when the characters in Dear White People sound as if they’re reciting different sections of a thesis, overall Simien’s screenplay is tight, funny, smart and insightful, and his direction has just enough indie feel without becoming too self-conscious or preachy.
  91. The Secret of the Grain never slows, always engages, may continue too long, but ends too soon. It is made of life itself.
  92. Never Die Alone is [Dickerson's] best work to date, with the complexity of serious fiction and the nerve to start dark and stay dark, to follow the logic of its story right down to its inevitable end.
  93. Moon is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind of or other, including digital.
  94. It’s a big puzzle that the filmmakers piece together in an intriguing and engrossing way.
  95. In Sacrifice, about a father who loses his son to the power of the state, it is difficult to miss the parallels with Chen's own life.
  96. The performances have a gravity about them that is unusual in the movies. How you respond to Butterfly Kiss depends on what you bring to it, and how much empathy you are willing to extend to these sad and horrifying women.
  97. Foxcatcher is a disturbing and memorable film.

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